A Mad Scientist Speaks

If I were designing a science fiction virus in a laboratory I’d want it to be a little bit like chickenpox, something that can lie dormant in a host body before re-emerging at some point in the future. Chickenpox can emerge in adulthood as shingles, which can be a lot more unpleasant than the childhood disease.

I’d want my virus to be mostly mild, but then absolutely devastating when it re-emerges down the line. That way, society could be lulled into a false sense of security and completely unprepared for Phase 2.

So I find it fascinating that so many people are asymptomatic with Covid-19. According to this, nearly half of the spread of the disease can be traced back to people without any symptoms. The ‘extraordinary spread’ of effects, from nothing to death is unprecedented.

That’s not at all similar to any virus or pathogen we’ve experienced that has killing potential in the past. What we have here is an extraordinary spectrum, including this quiet, stealth mode of infecting somebody.


I keep coming back to the idea that if you wanted to wreak havoc with a lab-designed virus, you’d want it to spread far and wide, which wouldn’t necessarily happen if people were getting ill quickly and showing lots of symptoms. Far better, if you were a mad scientist, to infect people with something they barely notice, if at all, and programme it to throw a switch for a devastating secondary infection somewhere down the line. In this scenario, the people who show symptoms are the outliers. And the enormous range of symptoms on offer, from head to toe, is an indication that this virus has surprises in store.

The perfect virus would infect you asymptomatically but also make you horny as hell.

At the moment, a tiny proportion of the population is thought to have had Covid-19 (6.78%). With asymptomatic spreading, it could penetrate far more deeply, with the vast majority of people feeling absolutely fine.

Then the mad scientist who created it could appear on TV, waving a vial of vaccine around and cackling.

So what will we do then? I don’t know about you, but I’m planning to join a travelling troupe of actors and musicians, performing Shakespeare for the people of the post-apocalypse.

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